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West warns Iran time running out for nuclear accord  UNITED NATIONS: The United States, Britain and France warned Iran on Thursday that time is running out for a negotiated settlement to the showdown on its nuclear program. "Time is wasting," US ambassador Susan Rice told a UN Security Council meeting on nuclear sanctions against Iran. Iran is "at a crossroads," Britain's UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant told the meeting at which western nations also slammed Iran for its arms deliveries to Syria and alleged links to terrorism. The meeting was held amid mounting speculation that Israel is planning a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to speak at the UN General Assembly of world leaders next week. A series of reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, have said Iran is stepping up uranium enrichment and not providing proof that its nuclear activities are peaceful. The western powers say Iran is seeking a nuclear bomb ...

Rare coloured diamonds on display in Hong Kong HONG KONG: A mining giant is showcasing dozens of the world's rarest diamonds in Hong Kong, as it seeks to tap into the booming Chinese jewellery market.   The 75 pink, red and blue diamonds are being shown at a private exhibition by Anglo-Australian mining firm Rio Tinto, which unearthed a huge 12.76-carat pink diamond in Australia in February -- the largest of the precious stones ever found in the country.   Less then 0.03 percent of the world's ...
Seven die in Philippines boat accident MANILA: Seven people died, including two children, and five were left missing after a small ferry sank off the southern Philippines, the civil defence office said on Thursday.   The boat, carrying 27 people, was travelling between islands in the country's southernmost Tawi-Tawi chain when it went down in rough waters late on Tuesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.   Two girls, aged four and eight, were among the dead, the council said. The identities ...
Indonesian capital votes in governor run-off JAKARTA: Voters in Indonesian capital Jakarta cast their votes Thursday in a run-off election for a new governor whose key challenges will include tackling traffic congestion and poor infrastructure.   The election pits incumbent Fauzi Bowo against the popular current mayor of Solo city in Central Java province, Joko Widodo.   Widodo topped the vote in July's first round -- winning 43 percent of votes, with Bowo taking 34 percent -- but failed to reach the 50 percent required ...
China opens naval base to US defence chief QINGDAO: US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had a rare first-hand look at a Chinese naval base Thursday, as Washington pushes a security dialogue with a country that could rival US power in the Pacific.   On the third day of his visit to China, Panetta flew to the eastern port of Qingdao, home to the headquarters of the Chinese navy's northern fleet, becoming the first Pentagon chief to set foot in the facility.   Chinese officers promised Panetta a ...
China implicates Bo Xilai for first time in criminal case  BEIJING: China for the first time on Wednesday implicated former senior politician Bo Xilai in a criminal act while avoiding naming him directly in a published account by state media of the trial of his one-time police chief. The Bo scandal has rocked Beijing, exposing rifts within the ruling Communist Party - elements of which are strong supporters of Bo's populist, left-leaning policies - at a time when China is preparing for a once-in-a-decade leadership change.  Wang ...
Xi meets Panetta, wants better military ties with US  BEIJING: China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping on Wednesday held his first talks with a foreign official since vanishing from the public eye nearly two weeks ago, telling US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta he wanted to advance ties with the United States.   Vice-President Xi's disappearance had prompted widespread rumours that he was ill or worse ahead of this year's five-yearly Communist Party Congress when he is expected to be named party chief.   Asked if he had learned why Xi ...

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